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Using discussion forums

Discussion Forums are used to facilitate classroom discussions between you, your classmates, and your instructor. Discussion forums are asychronous, meaning that, rather than taking place in real time, the writer and the reader of a message don't have to be online at the same time.

Your instructor will create discussion topics that are typically open-ended questions or the introduction of a new concept. You and your classmates can post messages to the topic and respond to one another's messages. A series of replies to the same message is called a thread.

Features of discussion forums

Depending on the type of forum set up in your course:

  • You may be able to subscribe/unsubscribe from a forum. (When you subscribe to a discussion forum it means you will be sent email copies of every subsequent post in that forum.)
  • You can post messages to a topic or reply to each other's messages.
  • You can attach files to messages. For example, you might want to attach a document to allow your peers to review it and then provide comments. (File size is limited.)
  • You have 5 minutes to edit your message after you have posted it.
  • Your instructor may create a topic that is assigned specifically to a group of which you are a member.
  • Your instructor may block a topic which means the number of messages you can post may be limited.
  • Discussion topics may be gradable, meaning that your participation in the discussion will be counted towards your final grade for the course.

Accessing discussion forums

Click on the Forums link in the Activities block to display a list of all forums that have been set up for your course.


Click on the Forum name to access messages posted to this topic.

Messages and threads

When you click on a the forum name, each message posted to the forum will show a link on the lower right-hand corner that you can click on to reply to that message. Once you click the Reply button, you may have to scroll down to see the reply box where you can type your response.


Displaying messages

At the top of the message page, there is a drop-down menu which enables you to display your messages in various ways. The default option is to 'Display replies in nested form' (as in the example above). Try each of the other options and choose the one that suits you best.

Display messages

Composing, formatting and editing a posts

When you create a new post or reply to an existing one, you need to enter your message in the HTML editor's reply box (shown below). You can either leave it on Auto-Format or use the formatting options available. Fields marked with an * are required.

Expand Click the arrow at the top right-hand corner of the HTML editor to enlarge the editing window and display more options. It will open in a new browser window.

Discussion message

You can also click Help to access online help for any option displaying this symbol.

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